It's that we try that makes us heroes, not that we necessarily succeed.
The charismatic, aristocratic main character. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Lynley has moved in the circles of the wealthy, titled, and powerful since birth. Despite his background, however, Lynley is driven by a strong sense of justice, which led him to Scotland Yard, where he rose through the ranks quite rapidly. He is a gifted detective, able to read suspects, motives, and situations like an open book, a talent which is aided by his excellent and extensive education. Unfortunately, his well-meaning arrogance and hardheadedness grate on the nerves of his co-workers, and he has rarely been able to keep a police partner for any great length of time... until a sharp-tongued Detective Sergeant turns his comfortably ordered world upside down.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Reverse direction for Lynley: The books regularly refer to him as a 'Greek god' type, which usually means Apollon/Adonis, when Nathaniel Parker probably only could get away as Hephaistos (if he fakes a limp). Ruggedly handsome, yes, but an Adonis he is not.
Blue Blood: Lord Asherton, Eighth Earl of Asherton.
Blue Oni: He starts off as this, to Havers' red. However, as the series progresses, he becomes a lot more prone to showing anger or responding emotionally to the investigation, whereas Havers develops a more stolid personality. By the end, he is teetering close to being classified as a Red Oni himself.
Dark and Troubled Past: Revealed in "A Suitable Vengeance". His father suffered from cancer and died when Lynley was 17. But what really troubled him is that his mother started an affair with the family doctor, Dr. Trenarrow, while his father lay on his deathbed. It takes years for Lynley to forgive his mother and in a way, his forgiveness comes too late.
Defective Detective: He doesn't appear to be as bad off as Havers, but as time goes by, Lynley does get pretty broken.
Gentleman and a Scholar: He has a First Class Honours in History from Oxford, and can distinguish off-hand between Arabic and ancient Arabic scripts.
Gentleman Detective: What he is now, though he did work his way up the ranks, starting as a Constable. Not that it prevents his colleagues from making unkind remarks about people born with "silver spoons up their backsides".
Gentleman Snarker: He can snark to his heart's content and still come across as the embodiment of sophistication.
You mean I get to be in charge of more than just choosing the right sandwiches?
Lynley's stubborn, hot-tempered, socially-inept, working-class partner. Havers' rough background has left her bitter and broken, determined to hurt the world before it hurts her, and so she hides her compassionate heart behind sarcasm and anger. Although her education is far from elite, this has not prevented her from becoming a clever, dedicated detective in her own right. Havers is anything but unintelligent, and a life among London's working poor has given her street smarts and the ability to see things others don't. Her temper and smart mouth have got her into trouble more than once, however, and no one really wants to break through her mask... until she's assigned to a blue-blooded Detective Inspector who refuses to conform to any of her preconceptions.
Action Girl: She has no problem chasing suspects, leaping fences, getting beat up, and otherwise throwing herself into the action.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Barbara Havers in the books is ugly and overweight. Sharon Small is... not◊. Elizabeth George, author of the book series the show was based on, was initially upset about this, until Small won her over with her performance as Havers.
Badass Adorable: She's really cute. And she can take you down before you can breathe twice.
British Accents: Estuary English with an East London twist - more specifically, the dialect of the East End.
Broken Bird: Barbara Havers pretty much had any semblance of optimism ground out of her with extreme prejudice after her little brother's death from cancer tore her family apart and her parents succumbed to mental illness and lung disease right before her eyes. When combined with the fact that she has No Social Skills (which have left her alone and misunderstood her entire life), a Hair-Trigger Temper (ditto), and massive class resentment issues, it's no wonder the poor thing was on the verge of being kicked off the force, Bunny Ears Detective or not, before she teamed up with Thomas Lynley. Although the show proceeds to further Break the Cutie (and also the haughty - her partner isn't spared), she softens and blossoms when paired with the one man who refuses to give up on her no matter how much she tries to drive him away. The result is a far more likable - but still snarky - Havers, in a rare case of a show helping put the bird back together again. Sort of.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Havers should have been kicked off the force years ago - she was, in fact, on the verge of being sacked when she met Thomas Lynley, and was even demoted once - because she has No Social Skills and a Hair-Trigger Temper. She's still around because she is, in fact, a frighteningly competent detective, and also the only officer on the force who can manage to survive as Thomas Lynley's partner for more than a month.
Character Development: As the show progresses, she gets on a much more even keel and generally becomes a lot more mature and levelheaded.
The Consigliere: Barbara is this to Lynley, despite her own fiery temper. Seen repeatedly over the series is Havers laying a calming hand on Lynley's arm and saying, "Sir? Sir!" when he is about to lose his temper, which serves to snap him out of it. She is so far the only person on the show to be able to do this with any sort of regular success.
Damsel out of Distress: She is not amused when people pull Distressed Damsel with her, and she makes sure they know it. She always inflicts significant damage and has in a few cases escaped just as Lynley got there.
Messy Hair: For the first four series, "blowsy" was probably the kindest adjective you could use to describe Barbara's hair on most days (although it's a good bit neater in the pilot). When her Fan Service Pack came along, her now-shoulder-length hair was a good deal sleeker (but still usually worn in a messy ponytail).